HARRISBURG – A bipartisan group of state legislators met Tuesday at the Capitol Building to discuss the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed “Clean Power Plan” and its impact on Pennsylvania’s job climate, electric rates and overall economy.
The House and Senate Coal Caucus public hearing featured testimony from John Pippy, CEO of the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance; Eugene Trisko, Counsel to United Mine Workers of America; Gary Merritt, North Star Generation and Vince Brisini, Olympus Power.
The EPA’s proposed plan would seek to cut carbon pollution from nationwide coal-fired power plants by 30 percent in 2030, compared to 2005 levels. The plan is being developed under the Clean Air Act.
Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the nation in coal production, according to the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance. The industry also employs over 36,000 workers.
During the hearing Coal Alliance CEO John Pippy noted that the EPA has taken advantage of the current market conditions to deliver a devastating blow to the coal industry. “While the price of natural gas is sure to fluctuate and the demand for electricity to rise as the economy strengthens, this regulation will be the cheap shot that cripples the industry from rebounding when the demand market returns,” Pippy said.
“Plainly stated, to achieve the carbon dioxide reduction goals from existing generators, the plan must significantly limit the use of coal and coal-refuse and then mandate other resources to provide the necessary electricity to preserve electric grid reliability,” said Vince Brisini of Olympus Power. “This regulation appears to be drafted to speed the retirement of the coal-fired and coal refuse-fired electric generation industry in the United States and to provide mandated markets for other electricity resources.”
“It should make a lot of people here angry,” said state Senator Gene Yaw, co-chair of the Senate Coal Caucus. We’re going against diversity in our energy field. The proposed regulations by the EPA should concern everyone, especially electric rate payers.”
Last session, the General Assembly passed and Governor Tom Corbett signed Act 175 of 2014 that requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop a state-specific carbon reduction plan. The Act also requires the plan to be submitted and approved by both chambers of the state legislature prior to being formally submitted to the EPA.
The EPA announced it will finalize the proposed Clean Power Plan by mid-summer 2015.
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- On June 17, 2015